by Dan Rafter
Brian Bellew, managing director and principal of enterprise solutions with the Chicago office of Avison Young, says that his division, and the corporate real estate departments of commercial real estate firms in general, are in more demand today from industrial users.
This isn’t surprising, Avison Young’s enterprise solutions division provides a host of corporate real estate services to these companies, handling everything from consulting, property management and portfolio strategy services to helping industrial users qualify for financial incentives, workforce analytics and supply chain studies.
“Since the economic downturn we had, companies have been forced to do more with less,” Bellew said. “Since that downturn, the professionals working at our clients’ sites have to take on multiple roles. If they can get some assistance in taking on a few of those tasks and responsibilities, it can be tremendously beneficial to them.”
At the same time that industrial users are asking their on-site professionals to take on more responsibilities, it’s becoming more complicated for these same users to earn approval for their new facilities and projects, Bellew said. This is another area in which corporate real estate services divisions can help.
Corporate services can help industrial users streamline their own internal approval processes to make sure that they are able to launch new product offerings as efficiently as possible. They can also help these users work with municipalities to earn approval for new facilities and expansions, and to qualify for the permits they need for these moves.
Divisions like the one offered by Avison Young can help industrial users determine whether it even makes financial sense to add updated equipment to their floors or to even offer a new product, Bellew said.
“We can help a firm determine whether the return on investment of a particular project will meet certain hurdles,” Bellew said. “That is information we can bring to the board level of a company. We can help our clients with information about payback periods and labor analytics, too.”
Bellew said more industrial users are turning to corporate real estate services. Avison Young focuses on smaller to mid-size companies, and these users often need corporate services because they simply don’t have the staffs to handle all of the tasks involved in running industrial facilities.
Users are turning to Avison Young, too, to help with consolidations and streamlining their real estate, Bellew said.
“In the industrial marketplace, many of our customers are consolidating from multiple industrial spaces in a metropolitan area to one larger, more modernized one that meets a number of different requirements,” Bellew said. “There is a requirement on the part of these users to get that job done in a very efficient, very seamless way.”
Bellew points to the work that Avison Young’s Enterprise Solutions division turned in on behalf of a food-service company looking for a new facility near O’Hare Airport. Avison Young analyzed sites and the company’s economics. The goal was to find a location that was close enough to the airport but also had adequate infrastructure. Avison Young also looked at how difficult it could be for its client to obtain the necessary permits and attract a skilled workforce to its new facility.
Thanks in part to Avison Young’s work, the company did find a location near the airport that met all of its needs, Bellew said.
“The word has definitely gotten out about how important corporate real estate services are to industrial users,” Bellew said. “There is so much at stake with every decision that these users make. The way the economy works today, if someone were to miss out on a particular aspect of a project, it can have enormous consequences. The total dollar loss can be significant on a daily basis. It can really add up over time. Working together as a team and collaborating with the right partners can help mitigate and lower that risk.”